Life drawing is hard. Mentally painful and exhausting, in the way that completing an obstacle course when you’re very unfit is hard. Not impossible, but it wrings you out and leaves you exhausted and seeing little lights. Or, in my case, seeing everyone I pass as a tangle of planes and shades and tendons.
In the case of life drawing (and an obstacle course, for that matter), I am very unfit. I’m throwing myself in the deep end, and hope it will pay off, but at the beginning of every pose I sit, shaking my pencil-hand and thinking, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” And then I draw a shape into which the pose sits, or only draw the shadows, or concentrate on the negative space, or simply unfocus my eyes and draw big loopy lines, and then focus and work down to the detail. And I hope that repeating, and repeating, will make better, if not perfect.
Tonight we had a male model, which adds another level of difficulty for me, because I am not used to breaking the male body down into proportions and I am fundamentally unfamiliar with it. With female models, I have the advantage of having a female body with me 24/7, so I understand a little more about how it works. And the female body – even underweight – is composed of curves and roundness and sinuous lines. I suspect this is why the female nude figures so much in decoration – there is something about its lines which is decorative (in the sense of it functions on an ornamental level as well as representational – much like the lines and patterns of arabesques). The male body is far more a study in musculature and bone structure, all angles and unexpected shadows and lines and places where the ribs or spine or collarbone play a much less subtle role in the overall shape.
Further, life drawing is bad for public speaking. When told to picture the audience in their underwear, you will not feel less embarrassed. You will feel like you should be drawing that overwhelming array of shadows, sinews, solar plexxi and lines of balance.
The animation society is folding at the end of the year, so I will have to find a new session to attend after the next fortnight. It’s a shame. I prefer to walk in Woolloongabba alone at night than in the Valley.